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Protein that boosts body's immunity against cancer discovered

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Protein that boosts body's immunity against cancer discovered

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) A team of researchers has discovered a protein which can also play a critical role in the immune system’s defence against cancer.

Researchers at the University of Turku in Finland found TIMP-1, a protein traditionally known to prevent damage to the body’s cells and tissues.

They discovered this protein also has a key role in the body’s immunity against cancer, a finding which can improve the effectiveness of current cancer treatments.

TIMP-1 protein is produced by dendritic cells, which are responsible for initiating immune responses and boosting the immune system’s ability to recognise and destroy cancer cells.

Researcher Carlos Rogerio Figueiredo from the University of Turku said for patients deficient in TIMP-1 expression, our discovery helps create rational therapeutic innovations.

Figueiredo added that the findings are also relevant for fighting infections by viruses and bacteria, as the process is part of a universal mechanism that fights microorganisms and cancer in a similar fashion.

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The study was published in the journal Genes & Immunity, which is part of the Nature Portfolio series.

The study used samples from the Finnish Auria Biobank for clinical-oriented discoveries, which were further validated with the latest biochemical and immunological tools to propose a new molecular view of how the body fights cancer.

–IANS

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Fertility treatments gain acceptance, thanks to advancements: Experts

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Fertility treatments gain acceptance, thanks to advancements: Experts

Fertility treatments gain acceptance, thanks to advancements: Experts

Hyderabad, July 25 (IANS) In a positive shift in societal attitudes, there is growing acceptance of fertility treatments among men and women, thanks to advancements and awareness, say fertility specialists on the occasion of World In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Day (July 25).

With advanced technologies improving IVF success rates, and offering new hope to couples, the acceptance of fertility treatment is growing.

According to specialists, egg freezing allows individuals to balance careers and future parenthood. More men are participating in fertility health, recognising infertility as a shared concern.

Voicing concern over declining fertility rates, they highlighted the need for continued education and access to services. Breaking down stigma and fostering open discussions are essential for supporting those facing infertility.

Fertility Specialists at Nova IVF Fertility note a rising trend in infertility due to lifestyle factors, late marriages, and delayed parenthood. Urban areas are seeing more women aged 35 and above seeking fertility treatments, while in rural regions, the average age of patients is 22-23 years.

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Telangana, in particular, has seen a decrease in fertility rates, with the current rate at 1.8 children per woman, significantly below the recommended replacement rate of 2.1.

“Ten years ago, we saw reduced sperm count in a few patients but now this has become severe, where men have extremely poor sperm quality and quantity below the needed levels. In women, while a fall in egg quality is observed, there are cases of adenomyosis – a disorder producing heavy bleeding during periods on the rise,” said Lakshmi Chirumamilla, Fertility Specialist, at Nova IVF Fertility, Hyderabad.

“A decade ago, persuading people to pursue fertility treatment was difficult due to the stigma. Today, 30 per cent of our patients have more acceptance towards taking up fertility treatment, a significant shift from 10 years ago. In the last 10 years, technology has evolved tremendously. Couples can now screen for genetic issues using tests such as Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGTA). Innovations such as DNA fragmentation and artificial intelligence in embryo selection can lead to increase in IVF success rates. Additionally, advancements in cryopreservation allow for the effective storage of eggs, sperm, and embryos, providing flexibility for those wishing to postpone parenthood,” she said.

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According to Hima Deepthi, Fertility Specialist at Nova IVF Fertility, couples and women are much more aware of the biological clock and its impact on fertility health.

“Over the last decade, there has been an increase in the number of women enquiring about egg freezing. We are receiving 50-100 queries for egg freezing, which was almost nil a few years ago. If couples would like to plan for children later, they should think about freezing their eggs, sperm, or embryos so that there is an option to preserve their fertility,” she said.

Kamineni Fertility Centre expert V. Hemalatha Reddy emphasises the shift in attitudes toward male infertility, saying, “The change in perception regarding male infertility is encouraging. Ten years ago, men were often resistant to undergoing semen analysis and reluctant to acknowledge that infertility issues might stem from male factors. Today, there is a growing openness among men to undergo semen analysis, reflecting increased awareness and acceptance of male fertility health. This shift is crucial for a holistic approach to fertility treatments. By understanding that infertility is a shared concern, couples are more likely to seek comprehensive treatment options, leading to better outcomes.”

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–IANS

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Rising infertility rate may impact demographic future of India: Experts

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Rising infertility rate may impact demographic future of India: Experts

Rising infertility rate may impact demographic future of India: Experts

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) India is seeing a significant spike in infertility rate that may impact the demographic future of India, said experts on World IVF Day on Thursday.

World IVF Day is observed every year on July 25 to commemorate the remarkable advancements in infertility treatment and reproductive endocrinology, as well as to fight the stigma that often surrounds couples facing infertility.

“India is currently facing a significant challenge with rising infertility rates that could impact its demographic future,” Kshitiz Murdia – CEO and Co-Founder of Indira IVF, told IANS.

“In India around 15-20 million couples are infertile and male infertility contributes around 40 per cent to this. We have observed a steady rise in male infertility in this country for over a decade now,” added Ashwini S, Infertility specialist, Cloudnine Hospital, Bangalore

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in six people worldwide experience infertility in their lifetime.

Murdia said the reasons for infertility in India include high rates of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), affecting up to 22.5 per cent of women, growing substance abuse, shifts in lifestyle, and an increase in sexually transmitted infections.

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“Environmental factors like high levels of air pollution and exposure to toxins can alter DNA contained within the sperm,” Ashwini told IANS.

In addition, more and more urban couples are also opting for late marriage owing to career commitments, this leads to delayed parenthood because as men age, sperm count and mobility go down, which makes conceiving harder.

Murdia said that even though “around 27.5 million married couples are struggling to conceive, only a small fraction, approximately 2,75,000, undergo IVF treatments each year”.

“While the country enjoys a demographic advantage with a predominantly young population, this is threatened by increasing infertility and an ageing populace, potentially leading to demographic issues similar to those seen in other Asian countries with ageing populations,” he added.

Male infertility is also particularly on the rise in urban areas owing to a sedentary lifestyle and stress, which impacts hormonal balance causing issues in sperm count and quality.

It is becoming increasingly prominent as the rate of declining sperm counts has accelerated to 2.6 per cent per year since 2000.

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“IVF clinics are witnessing a growing influx of patients struggling with low sperm counts and azoospermia — a condition where no sperm is present in the semen,” Murdia said.

More worrisome is the fact that it is “now significantly impacting younger males”.

“If not addressed, these issues could significantly alter India’s population structure, leading to a demographic crisis characterised by an ageing population, a situation for which the nation may not be fully prepared,” Murdia said.

–IANS

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India's medical devices industry to grow five-fold to $50 bn by 2030: DCGI

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India's medical devices industry to grow five-fold to  bn by 2030: DCGI

India's medical devices industry to grow five-fold to $50 bn by 2030: DCGI

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) With proper regulation, India’s medical devices industry is estimated to grow five-fold to $50 billion by 2030, said Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Rajeev Singh Raghuvanshi on Thursday.

He was speaking at a conference on the classification of health products organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the national capital.

The DCGI underlined the benefits of regulation, including quality monitoring and international acceptance, which collectively boost industry growth.

“Regulating an industry provides many advantages, the foremost being quality monitoring and standardisation, which is critical in healthcare as it deals with people’s lives. A regulated industry builds international confidence in the products manufactured, boosting growth. Projections indicate that by 2030, the industry could grow to about $50 billion, which is five times its current size,” said Raghuvanshi.

He also warned against compromising quality for profitability and highlighted unethical practices, emphasising the need for industry-wide commitment to high ethical and quality standards, given the healthcare sector’s critical impact on human lives.

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India currently imports 80 per cent of its medical devices, with only 20 per cent domestically manufactured. The government has introduced numerous incentives, schemes, and policy interventions to shift this balance.

Raghuvanshi noted the licensing of over 3,200 manufacturing units and 10,000 import licences within one and a half years, showcasing significant progress.

He stressed the need to reverse the import-manufacture ratio and achieve a net positive trade in medical devices.

“For in vitro devices, we currently have about 280 manufacturing licences and around 900 import licences. Despite manufacturing many in vitro devices domestically, almost 100 per cent of the reagents used are imported. This area holds significant business potential and opportunities,” he stated.

Madhur Gupta, Technical Officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO), echoed the need for India to develop in-house reagents for diagnostic kits within the next three to five years.

“This shift would not only reduce costs but also improve access,” Gupta said, while calling for a unified approach to strengthen diagnostic schemes in collaboration with states.

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The conference attended by more than 100 industry delegates from the healthcare sector also featured a dedicated session on the definition and categorisation of health products, emphasising their roles in preventing disease, promoting health, managing health problems, and providing rehabilitative, assistive, or palliative care.

–IANS

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Early cancer detection startup Navaux gets new funding

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Early cancer detection startup Navaux gets new funding

Early cancer detection startup Navaux gets new funding

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) US-based cancer detection startup Navaux on Thursday announced receiving fresh funding, which it said, will play a “pivotal role” in entering the Indian market.

The life science company secured an undisclosed investment from angel investor Karna D. Shinde.

This comes as India is rapidly emerging as a hub for health-tech innovations, a trend highlighted by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent announcement in the Union Budget 2024-25, which offers relief to cancer patients by exempting three crucial cancer treatment medicines from customs duty.

“This investment will play a pivotal role in helping Navaux, a company specialising in early cancer detection technology, establish connections within the Indian healthcare industry as they prepare to introduce their cutting-edge solutions to the Indian market,” the company said in a statement.

Navaux’s innovative ACTIVH test, developed based on preclinical studies, can predict the onset of cancer up to 3-4 years in advance, which can help individuals make lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and alcohol, to potentially prevent the development of cancer.

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Further, ACTIVH is a critical tool for patients undergoing cancer treatments, providing real-time insights into the efficacy of chemotherapy, radiation, or other therapies by monitoring Hepsin levels in the blood. A decrease in Hepsin levels indicates effective treatment, while an increase signals the need for alternative therapies.

“Early cancer detection significantly improves survival rates. Navaux’s ACTIVH is a boon for patients and their families. Determining aggressive cancer development before symptoms arise will lead to longer survival and a better quality of life for patients,” Shinde said.

“Moreover, biomarkers like Hepsin offer the potential for future therapies that are more effective and produce fewer side effects,” he added.

–IANS

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Every hour 26 lives lost to drowning worldwide: WHO

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Every hour 26 lives lost to drowning worldwide: WHO

Every hour 26 lives lost to drowning worldwide: WHO

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) About 236,000 lives every year, which can be 350 per day or 26 every hour, are lost due to drowning worldwide, said Saima Wazed, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for South East Asia on Thursday.

July 25 is observed as World Drowning Prevention Day to bring awareness about the leading cause of injury-related death and disability worldwide.

The theme this year is ‘Anyone can drown, no one should’.

“In 2019, drowning claimed 70,034 lives in the South-East Asia Region, making it the second-highest contributor to drowning deaths worldwide,” said the Regional Director.

“Drowning is a sudden and silent killer, often catching victims and those around them unawares until it is too late. A few seconds may not be enough time to respond. The power is in prevention,” she added.

Wazed noted that the majority of the incidents took place near homes due to lack of supervision, exposure to hazardous water bodies, insufficient awareness, and poverty.

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There are preventive measures that exist and are crucial to address this issue, Wazed said, adding that the global health body has outlined evidence-based, cost-effective, and scalable strategies to prevent drowning.

It also comes with guidance that is tailored to different contexts.

“We all have a role to play in preventing drowning. Whether by raising awareness, promoting knowledge of effective solutions, collaborating on prevention plans and policies with local or national governments, volunteering with relevant organisations, or ensuring personal and family safety around water, each of us can make a difference,” Wazed said.

–IANS

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